Changing Gears in the Assessment Cycle: Preparing for Gradual yet Substantial Shifts

Changing Gears in the Assessment Cycle: Preparing for Gradual yet Substantial Shifts

Ben Seipel, Paul Bailey, Rachel Teasdale
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8579-5.ch008
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There is an ongoing need to prepare postsecondary educators to use not only 21st century assessment tools but also 21st andragogy/pedagogy that meets the needs of all 21st century learners. This chapter reviews those issues, reviews different aspects and approaches to assessment, and proposes an encompassing assessment framework for culturally responsive, authentic, reflective, ethical, formative, universal, and learner-focused (CAREFUL) assessment. The chapter contextualizes these approaches in faculty development (FDEV) to help “change gears” using data from a FDEV opportunity at a midsized, comprehensive university. The chapter provides several examples of CAREFUL assessment and a discussion of how FDEV can improve student learning and experiences.
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What is Assessment?

Assessment is a broad term that has several meanings in higher education (Seipel & Ferrari, 2019). More specifically, depending on a person’s position in higher education, they will have a different use and definition (Cizek, 1997; Erwin, 1991). In general, assessment is the process of gathering, analyzing, and using students’ academic information or data (Butler & McMunn, 2006; Scriven, 1967), but assessment can also refer to the instrument or tool used to gather that data. In higher education, assessment also refers to the large-scale process of collecting data (student, faculty, programmatic, and institutional) for the purposes of accreditation. Ideally, assessment is the process of using this student information to measure learning/achievement, evaluate performance, and to inform and foster future learning (Phye, 1997). Recently, given the shortcomings indicated in the introduction, many institutions are adopting this formative, data-driven approach to program assessment in hopes of “closing the loop” or “closing the gap.”

Key Terms in this Chapter

Asset-Based Approach: The process of identifying, focusing, and developing a student’s talents, strengths, and interests as opposed to identifying and focusing on a student’s weakness (i.e., deficit-based approach).

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: A philosophical and theoretical approach that recognizes and emphasizes the importance of students’ cultural capital and community cultural wealth fostered through building positive relationships.

Linguistic Capital: More than traditional language proficiency (knowledge, skill, fluency), linguistic capital envelops an individual’s leveraging of pragmatics and power dynamics pertinent to time, place, and manner-- often in relation to the dominant social group.

Reflective Practice: The essential professional process of self-examination of one’s own learning and teaching practices, preferences, and dispositions with the goal of improving instruction and student learning.

Access: The level of educational opportunity, resources, and support available to students, which varies based on broad demographic variables such as race, primarily language, gender, zip code, SES, parental education, etc.

Andragogy: The general instructional methods and practices used by an instructor to teach older students; the belief that adult students learn differently from elementary and adolescent students due to development, experience, and discipline.

Equity: The level and process of achieving fairness in educational access in such that all students can succeed.

Summative Assessment: The process or tool used to measure, evaluate, and record student performance that summarizes what was learned or achieved over a unit of study.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL): The approach to foster educational access and equity by providing multiple means of engagement, representation, and action/expression.

Formative Assessment: The process or tool used to measure, evaluate, and record the difference between a student’s current state or ability and an end goal or standard.

Faculty Development: The process of focusing on, sustaining, facilitating, and improving student success by supporting faculty members through workshops, mentorship, and training.

Cultural Capital: The social assets of a student.

Pedagogy: The general instructional methods and practices used by a teacher that reflect a broad educational philosophy; can also reflect the methods of institution or discipline.

Community Cultural Wealth: An asset-based approach of understanding the cultural capital and cultural wealth of students situated in their broader socio-cultural context.

Authentic Assessment: The process or tool used to measure, evaluate, and record student achievement with real-world tasks in real-world situations, and ideally using based in context personally relevant to the students.

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